Aug 06

Legal battles continue over Taxpayer Bill of Rights, hospital fees, transportation taxes

egal battles continue over Taxpayer Bill of Rights, hospital fees, transportation taxes

FILE - Colorado State Capitol
The Colorado State Capitol in Denver, Colorado.

On Nov. 3, 1992, Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment which stipulates that lawmakers seeking to raise taxes or issue debt must first ask voters for permission.

Called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, it took effect Dec. 31, 1992, and was designed to serve as another check against the growth of government. It requires that any increase in overall revenue from taxes not exceed the rates of inflation and population growth.

The TABOR Foundation, which was instrumental in advancing the amendment, maintains that it has been a successful measure.

Others maintain it interferes with advancing critical public spending initiatives. Sam Mamet, the executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, opposes TABOR. Mamet argued on the 25th anniversary of TABOR that “iIt is one of the most seriously damaging things the voters of the state have done to themselves in the last 25 years, in my humble opinion.”

Since its inception 26 years ago, many attempts have been made to amend, circumvent and litigate TABOR; the foundation counts at least 80 cases between 1993 and 2017.

Pfiffner said a perfect example of this is the 2015 lawsuit it filed, TABOR Foundation, et al. v. Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, et al. regarding Colorado’s “hospital provider fee,” which it argues is an unconstitutional tax.

Continue reading

Jul 17

Bed tax law suit gets new life

Bed tax law suit gets new life

DENVER — Ongoing litigation against the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, among others, over a 2009 program that raised taxes via a “hospital provider fee,” has new energy after Cause of Action Institute announced earlier this month it would take on the representation of the plaintiffs in the case.

Cause of Action is a Washington D.C.-based 501(c)(3) organization that according to its website advocates for “economic freedom and individual opportunity advanced by honest, accountable, and limited government.”

Plaintiffs, who were originally represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, had 60 days to find new counsel after Mountain States withdrew for reasons not related to the case or the plaintiffs.

Lee Steven and James Valvo are the lead attorneys. The Colorado-licensed attorney is Michael Francisco, who while working in the Colorado Attorney General’s office helped to write the defense of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Kerr vs. Hickenlooper, which claimed TABOR was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government. That argument lost.

This case was initially filed in 2015. It asserts the state’s Hospital Provider Fee is actually a tax enacted in violation of the TABOR. Continue reading

Jun 12

Your TABOR Foundation is suing the State of Colorado

The TABOR Foundation is suing the State of Colorado over the bed tax termed a “Hospital Provider” charge, which was imposed without voter approval in strict violation of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  Our lawsuit had to be substantially amended when Senate Bill 17- 267 further flaunted the constitution by increasing the tax limit by $400+ million, defining the hospital welfare program as an off-the-books government business, issuing $2 billion in debt and much else – all without any regard to the requirements in TABOR.

In late March, we learned that our attorneys at Mountain States Legal Foundation had to withdraw.  From our outside observation point, some internal reorganization appears to have been the reason.  From everything that I have seen and heard, neither the TABOR Foundation nor the other three Plaintiffs contributed to the difficult situation.

In early April, Judge Buchanan gave us 60 days to find replacement counsel.

This email is a happy announcement that the TABOR Foundation met that deadline to recruit new attorneys and the hand-off is just about complete.  Yesterday, the TABOR Foundation appeared at a new Hearing as ordered by Judge Buchanan.  With us were the outgoing attorneys and participating by telephone were our new attorneys.  One of the other Plaintiffs, Scott Rankin, also attended.  The Court approved the substitution.  We have pulled together another very strong team so the outlook is positive.  Our new legal representation is by Cause of Action Institute, with Lee Steven and James Valvo stepping into the lead roles.  Our Colorado-licensed attorney is Michael Francisco, who while working in the Colorado Attorney General’s office helped to write the defense of TABOR in Kerr vs. Hickenlooper.

Now that the legal activity may move forward, look for more communications about developments no later than the fall…..

Penn R. Pfiffner
Chairman

Nov 07

Reflections on 25 years of TABOR in Colorado

Reflections on 25 years of TABOR in Colorado

Friday marked 25 years since the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1992

By Julia RentschReporter-Herald Staff Writer

Posted:   11/06/2017 11:07:03 PM MST

TABOR timeline

• 1992 — Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amends Section 20 Article X of the Colorado Constitution

• 2000 — Amendment 23 for education spending increases

• 2005 — Ballot measure Referendum C loosens some TABOR restrictions for five years

• 2006 — TABOR measures rejected by voters in Maine, Nebraska, Oregon

• 2011 — State Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst lead suit against TABOR

• 2014 — Kerr v. Hickenlooper confirms general assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of TABOR

• 2015 — U.S. Supreme Court returns Kerr & Hullinghorst case to 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

• 2017 — House Bill 17-1187 to change excess state revenues cap growth factor introduced

Both Sam Mamet and Larry Sarner acutely remember the moment that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Act was amended to the Colorado Constitution. The difference: One man hated the amendment’s restrictions, while the other saw them as democratically vital.

Friday marked exactly 25 years since the election in which the amendment was added to the state constitution — Nov. 3, 1992. The measure took effect Dec. 31, 1992, and serves as a way to limit the growth of government by requiring increases in overall revenue from taxes not exceed the rates of inflation and population growth.

Continue reading

Oct 04

Colo. Taxpayer Rights Act Suit Appealed To 10th Circuit

Colo. Taxpayer Rights Act Suit Appealed To 10th Circuit

Law360, New York (October 2, 2017, 2:56 PM EDT) — A group of Colorado political subdivisions have returned to the Tenth Circuit to argue that they have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Eight school boards, a county commission and a special district board, in their opening brief on Sept. 27, claimed extensive injury from TABOR, a state constitutional provision requiring popular approval of any tax increase at any level of government.

“TABOR has deprived all of Colorado’s legislative bodies — from the state Legislature to boards of county commissioners…

Oct 02

Taxpayers Have Their Own Bill of Rights in Colorado. But Who Benefits?

Taxpayers Have Their Own Bill of Rights in Colorado. But Who Benefits?

The unique anti-tax tool has defined spending in the state, and it may spread to more states.
BY  OCTOBER 2017

Anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce led the TABOR effort in 1992. “No one has had the impact on Colorado politics” that he has, according to one academic in the state. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

The blue tag on the streetlight outside Robert Loevy’s Colorado Springs home in 2010 didn’t signal an upcoming utility project. It was a receipt to show he had paid the $100 to keep his light on for the year. The city was facing a decimating $40 million budget gap and, among many other cuts, it was turning off one-third of its streetlights. That is, unless residents could come up with the money themselves. “I could afford to pay it,” Loevy says today, “but I have to think that would have been a stretch for many lower-income people.”

Loevy, a retired Colorado College professor, says the lights-out incident — which earned Colorado Springs international infamy that year — is just one of the many instances in which Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) has only benefited those taxpayers who can afford to pay for services out of their own pocket. Loevy has been a vocal critic of the law. As he sees it, “TABOR has had its worst effects on poor people.”

Continue reading

May 06

Andy Kerr’s TABOR End-Run Lawsuit Meets Timely Death

KERR-TAILED: Andy Kerr’s TABOR End-Run Lawsuit Meets Timely Death

Yesterday, a district court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought forward by Democratic state Sen. Andy Kerr, who is running to replace fellow Democrat Ed Perlmutter. The ruling was a huge victory for taxpayers and the lawsuit was the height of hubris by Kerr and Company. Here’s what we wrote about the lawsuit last month, when Kerr announced his run for Governor:

“The case has not been resolved and is still working its way through the court system, but the crux of the case is that Andy Kerr, represented by liberal U.S. Rep. Diana Degette’s husband Lino Lipinsky, believes that TABOR, or the taxpayer bill of rights, violates a representative government. Has Kerr been a passionate advocate for representative government in the past? No. In essence, he’s searching for any reason to undermine TABOR. Here’s what the Denver Post‘s then-editorial page editor, Vincent Carroll, wrote in 2013 about the case:

“They wish to be the sole authority in Colorado on ‘all questions [my emphasis] of timing, method, nature, purpose, extent, and priority with respect to the imposition of taxes or the appropriation of funds.’

They say this in a legal brief filed recently in support of a lawsuit urging federal courts to strike down the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as an unconstitutional infringement on legislative power.”

This is just disgusting. Given his obvious attempt at a power grab, Kerr should be rejected by any voter that does not consider him or herself a radical leftist. Here’s what Senate President Kevin Grantham had to say about the ruling:

“Senate Republicans applaud the district court’s decision to dismiss this case, which clearly was aimed at end-running and undermining, through sly legal maneuvers, the will of voters who wrote TABOR into the State Constitution. If TABOR foes are sure Coloradans no longer support the taxpayer protections and fiscal discipline TABOR provides, they should stop waging these guerilla wars and put a repeal measure on the ballot. They don’t do so because they know Coloradans continue to support the spirit and letter of this law.”

Grantham is right. Leftists don’t have the votes to pass this ill-advised potential ballot initiative, and Coloradans love the idea that TABOR represents. This blatant cash grab should be enough to disqualify Kerr from higher office.

https://coloradopeakpolitics.com/2017/05/05/kerr-tailed-andy-kerrs-tabor-end-run-lawsuit-meets-timely-death/

May 06

Judge Throws Out Challenge To Colorado’s Spending Limits

DENVER (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a long-running lawsuit challenging Colorado’s strict tax and spending limits as unconstitutional but more appeals are possible.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore ruled Thursday that none of the former or current elected officials, educators or citizens challenging the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill or Rights or TABOR have proved they were harmed by it. As a result, he said they don’t have the right to challenge the voter-approved measure in court.

TABOR also requires tax increases to be approved by voters. Challengers say that violates the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a republican form of government in each state where elected officials make decisions.

The lawsuit was filed in 2011. Along the way, part of it was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent the case back to court in Denver.

Judge Throws Out Challenge To Colorado’s Spending Limits

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/05/05/tabor-taxpayers-rights/

 

May 05

Federal judge dismisses Kerr VS. Hickenlooper TABOR lawsuit, bringing possible end to six-year court fight

DENVER – The six-year fight over whether Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) violates state and federal laws came close to a possible end Thursday, when a U.S. District Court of Colorado judge dismissed the latest appeal and ordered the case be closed entirely.

 

The latest court actions from the federal district court came after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s earlier decision that the plaintiffs in the case – which included numerous former and current state legislators, teachers and various city and county jurisdictions and departments – had standing in the case. The 10th Circuit sent the decision back to district court last June.

But the 10th Circuit’s decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court had sent the circuit court’s decision back to it in 2015, following a ruling in a similar case out of Arizona. Continue reading